10 Jan What Are We Training For? (The Bigger, Better, Stronger, Faster Paradigm)
I’ve been thinking a lot about training lately. What are we training for? I mean, specifically, what are we working to achieve? After some serious thought, I believe it really comes down to these 4 things:
Bigger, better, stronger, faster.
That sums up my training paradigm.
I’ve talked about my philosophy being built on a foundation of movement and strength – and it is.
But a paradigm is how I think about training, it’s how I approach training.
A paradigm is, by definition, a theory or a group of ideas about how something should be done, made, or thought about.
Becoming bigger, better, stronger, and faster is the process and the “end game” of what I train for.
This paradigm isn’t just for athletes and I’ll explain why.
Anyone can adopt this paradigm and it can be considered to improve both health and performance.
Let me explain this important concept in more detail so you can see how it can help guide your training and results.
I’ll start with becoming better because it may be the most important.
Moving better (or better described as becoming a “skilled mover”) is really what it’s all about. Although I doubt many would say that their primary goal is to become a “better mover.”
As Gray Cook once stated, “movement is important, until you can’t.”
MOVEMENT ISN’T IMPORTANT, UNTIL YOU CAN’T. – GRAY COOK
Let that quote sit a while.
If you’ve read my articles before, then you know that better movement is the core to my approach.
This simple discovery took me years to figure out, but I can tell you this truth is the key to achieving many health and fitness goals. People are figuring this out, too.
Great training and long term results begins with a foundation of quality human movement. Then you build and develop your skills on that foundation. Being the strongest person isn’t the best thing if your movement patterns suck and you can’t perform a basic, fundamental movement (ex. squat).
Progressing movement skills and working to improve performance lasts a lifetime – it’s not something you work on for a little while and then you stop. You can always work to be the best damn mover, but you can’t always be the strongest.
Seek to always improve. Strive to always get better with your movement skills.
Why? Because you can – and it will help you a lot in life.
Shouldn’t we be doing this anyway?
We should, but most don’t. That’s just the reality.
Remember that training is really about the journey, not the destination.
Again – it’s about the journey NOT the destination.
Seeking to become better (a better mover) is the foundation to any solid training approach.
HOW do we do this?
- We always work on our movement skills as part of our training
- We address gaps and movement issues with appropriate “correctives”
- We find qualified coaches to show us “how to” move better and develop our skills
- Did I mention – we always work on our movement skills…
What do I mean about becoming bigger?
This is maybe the one idea that could easily be misunderstood, so let me clarify.
I’ve talked about this in more detail in my book, but the bottom line is that we lose muscle tissue as we age and we should literally be fighting to maintain or increase our muscle tissue for both health and performance reasons.
It’s kind of funny that many people still fear getting bulky yet they don’t realize the importance of muscle tissue for quality of life.
Adding lean muscle tissue is a driver for metabolic functions for the “look good” goal that so many are chasing.
Hey, we all want to look great and have great bodies.
But if your goals are simply simply to “look better naked” then you definitely need to focus on building muscle mass and all the other things I cover here – not just the “look better” goal. The “look better” thing will happen as a result of “bigger-better-faster-stronger.”
Does this make sense?
This is why becoming bigger (or building quality muscle) will always be an important part of my training paradigm. I want to do what I can to preserve muscle mass for as long as I can – for health, for function, and – yes – even for aesthetics.
This is NOT saying that we should all become bodybuilders.
Instead, we should all work on building muscle tissue because muscle is lost over time as we age.
Methods to do this (examples):
- Specific hypertrophy training phases
- Squat programs and other basic barbell programs
- Double kettlebell programming is an effective approach
- Higher volume training (typically more appropriate to induce muscle mass)
In one of the previous podcast interviews I had an incredible discussion with the renowned Dr. Ed Thomas.
You can catch that interview here.
He basically said something about how we ALL should be training for speed – for as long as we possibly can. His statement hit me like a right hook to the gut. He’s right. Why would we ever stop training for speed, explosiveness, agility, and what I call “resilience?”
In previous research cited by the highly regarded Strength Scientist, Dr. Vladimir Zatsiorsky, we also have a preferential loss of the type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers as we age.
These fibers are the important muscle fibers that are responsible for explosive power development and this is NOT what we want to lose as we get older. I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell don’t. I’d like to be resilient as I age. In other words, I’d like to be able to do as much as possible, for as long as possible.
Think about this for a minute.
Even if you’re not athletic or don’t compete in sports, you still need the ability to generate force and react quickly. The longer you can sustain your muscles abilities to generate force quickly, the more resilient you will be in life.
What do I mean?
Let’s just say you’re walking and you trip over a curb or something – you need the ability to react quickly to prevent the fall. Or maybe fall in a way that would prevent a serious injury (ex. go into a tumble). Don’t laugh, this has actually happened to me before where I tripped and had to react quickly to prevent a more serious injury (yes, I went into a tumble).
This is “real world” stuff. This is why we need to preserve power development and if you don’t believe me, read the work by Dr. Zatsiorsky (Strength Training Science & Practice, Chapter 11).
To clarify, I’m not just talking about pure speed, but the ability to preserve the ability to move fast and react quickly.
We need the quality of explosive strength to perform better and function at a high level not only sport, but in day-to-day life. When we lose this, it’s sad day.
Tools and methods to do this (examples):
- Olympic weightlifting
- Certain bodyweight training applications
- Jump training
- And more…
All of these have explosive (faster movement) components to them.
Finally, we need to fight for our strength every single day. We need to work to become stronger.
Most people miss this important point and that’s why I wrote a book about it.
Just like the age-related structural muscle tissue loss that I just told you about, we also lose muscular strength each day. So we better to do everything we can to build and improve the qualities of physical strength today and everyday. Physical strength improves quality of life.
Don’t misunderstand this, we aren’t working to get stronger just for the sake of getting stronger.
Not at all.
Training for strength will help most people achieve the things they want. And all of us essentially want one or all three of these things: to look better, to feel better, and to perform better.
Strength helps that – and more.
Before strength though, good movement is a prerequisite.
There are many methods to train for strength. There is no better method for high strength than the barbell, but kettlebells, bodyweight training, and other methods certainly serve strength well.
THE NEW PARADIGM
The bigger, better, stronger, faster paradigm is very simple as I’ve just explained.
And this applies to all of us – not just some of us.
It applies regardless of goals, however, the actual level of each of these areas would definitely depend on the athlete or individual goals. Yes, it depends.
If you think about the bigger-better-stronger-faster paradigm, I believe you’ll find that this simple approach aligns with your own goals.
As a matter of fact, I can assure you that this paradigm is relevant to what you’re training for.
One final thing as I wrap this up.
The more I talk to other experts and leaders in the industry, the more I realize that this simple paradigm leads to success for the long term.
Don’t chase the quick fix or shortcut, follow a training paradigm.
Remember what I said about the journey?
Let this guide your training.
By the way, if you’re a coach or trainer, help your clients and athletes understand this paradigm or facets of training.
It’s simple and powerful – if it’s applied.
Spread the word! Please share this on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere you’d like.